Tag Archives: staple hill

29-01-2019 – Disco Dave, Japan And The Power Slide

Hola homeys!

It’s always nice to see old friends, particularly when they bring you an ultra-cool pressie :-).

Saturday’s jaunt to the Albion House Club in Cheltenham was graced by the presence of my dear and long-standing friend Disco Dave, whom we haven’t seen for a couple of years on account of him working on the wrong side of the world.

And a very pleasant evening we all had, despite a somewhat worrying start…

Our lovely Em was arriving separately to the rest of us, and a little later, and so we duly rolled up, set up the kit, and waited. Start time came and went, and there is still no sign of our sparkly chanteuse. A quick call reveals that although she is quite close, but “the police have shut the road off” – and this being Cheltenham, and a one-way labyrinth at the best of times, it’s not easy to find another way in. READ MORE

21-01-2019 – Plankocasters And The Wig

Good grief, Charlie Brown…

That was an exciting week and no mistake!

For one thing, I had a birthday in the middle of it – for the curious amongst you, I can reveal that my age is now officially “not dead yet”.

And I was particularly delighted to be sent a large and luxurious custom birthday card from my favourite Pighillians, featuring a stunning Triumph Bonneville with a fetching blonde lady (actually somewhat reminiscent of my dear Dem in her younger years) astride it, and – this had to be pointed out to me – a rather handsome chap lurking in the background. READ MORE

15-01-2019 – Told You So Special

Yo homeys

Well, that’s back to normality (or what passes for normality, at any rate). Friday night at the Blue Lagoon was gratifyingly busy considering it’s early January, and I managed to wangle just enough stage space to be able to use my pointy guitar for a change; something which makes me rather happy.

Guitar

If only because it gives me an excuse to show a picture of it… Ain’t she purty?

“Our clients” behaved just as expected, i.e. with much dancing around, spilling of drinks, and dropping of glasses. For entertainment value, Em and I mentally awarded the prize to a group of gyrating lads who had obviously had dancing described to them at some point, but had clearly never actually seen it done.

Saturday night, and a jaunt out to the very welcoming Golden Fleece in Bath, to wheel out some of the noisier side of the repertoire. And we had an absolute blast, with much messing about and tomfoolery going on. The crowd were lovely, and even the table of somewhat senior customers (and this is me saying that) right at the front seemed to being enjoying themselves. We were particularly impressed by the nice white-haired lady who was jigging around in her seat and singing along, pausing only occasionally to get up and hobble across to the bar to get herself another beer in. “I’m seventy nine next month”, she told me as she came past, “And I’m having a lovely time”. We’re considering adopting her as the band’s official mum.

Even a technical hitch, involving my lovely guitar sound disappearing and being replaced by an ominous rhythmic buzzing didn’t slow us down; Emma simply went out to harassed the “clients” individually, and sang some impromptu requests while I frantically tried to diagnose the problem, failed, dug out the necessary leads to plug in to my spare amp, set it up only to find the fault was still there, and only THEN eventually figured out the actual cause, disconnected the offending pedal and reconnected the main amp again before being rewarded with my beautiful restored guitar tone [Editor’s note: this was a told you so moment as yours truly said it was a pedal at the start of the problem]. Just in time to save Em from having to attempt an a capella version of the Oasis song she’d been requested to do.

So we were able to happily romp through the rest of the set, and play a couple of hugely fun encores, before slumping into a happy exhausted heap while we mustered the energy to pack everything up.

Hooray for rock & roll!

Coming up next weekend – two more rather fine outings…

Friday 18th – The Packhorse, Lawrence Hill
Lovely cosy and friendly biker’s pub. We played here a while before Christmas, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We think they did too, ‘cos they asked us back.

Sunday 20th – The Crown, Staple Hill
Next door to Ben’s gaffe, and a 6:30 start so we can all still be tucked up in beddy byes by ten*, ready for school in the morning. Rawk and roll, hey?

Right, that’ll do, I’m off to see the wizard, now.

The wonderful wizard of Beer…

Square on
A

*Contrary to popular belief, Angel Up Front do NOT in fact all sleep together in an oversized bed, each wearing a set of blue and white striped pyjamas and a nightcap. #thetruth.

11-10-2018 – You Can Coil My Cables Anytime

Hola amigos!

Welcome back to the never-ending tour diaries of Angel Up Front – to my mind, the finest rawk’n’roll band in this blog. (Although I have to admit, the competition is somewhat limited on that front…)

Nonetheless, I must admit that, talented and lovely as we are, even we are not above the occasional mishap; for example, on Friday at the Giant Goram, one of our number (who shall remain nameless) forgot the words to Alice Cooper*’s classic anthem School’s Out – such that we started the song, we played round the first verse twice waiting for inspiration to strike, then stopped again.

We ask the punters if they’d like us to try again – they would, so after a quick reminder of the words, we successfully manage to get through it on the second attempt.

The rest of the night passes without mishap, and whilst we’re packing up, Emma (for it was indeed she who forgot the words) redeems herself magnificently.

Amongst the usual packing-away chaos of drum cases, lighting stands, etc, scattered everywhere, Em suddenly stops what she’s doing when she notices me just gazing at her from somewhere across the stage.

“What is it?” she asks.

“I was just watching you,” I explain. “Thing is…There’s something almost supernaturally sexy about a woman who can coil up mike cables properly”.

She is well pleased with this.

Funnily enough, the following night at the Crown in Staple Hill, between sets, a couple of the audience are telling Ben how very impressed they are with the evening’s entertainment, and in particular how talented Emma is. “

Yes, she certainly is”, he agrees, “But to tell the truth, when we did the auditions, the main reason she got the job was that she can coil up cables…”.

However, our favourite audience response comes after we finish the last set, and all slump down at a nearby table to catch our breath for a moment.

“Excuse me”, a nice lady enquires, “Can I just ask… Are you all related?”

We’re reduced to stunned silence for a moment.

We look round at each other, trying in vain to see some family resemblance.

“Er… not as far as we know…” we hazard, cautiously.

Emma eventually works out the logic behind the question.

“It’s because we’re all idiots, isn’t it…?”

Coming up next week – another dose of amnesiac idiocy…
Saturday 13th – Albion House Social Club, Cheltenham
Not one of your lower class social clubs, this is actually a proper nice place, with decent beer, massively helpful staff, and a friendly and enthusiastic crowd. And, as I recall from last time, a very impressive state-of-the-art smoke detector, which nobody knows how to switch off…

In the meantime, Emma is pleased to offer – at very reasonable rates – evening classes in cable-coiling, for the benefit of any single young ladies who may wish to attract a mate of the musician persuasion. Although, to be honest, my advice would be to simply run away while you still can.

Thas’ yer lot for this week

Square on
A

*My favourite quote from Alice Cooper comes from an interview when he was asked what he thought of Marilyn Manson: – “He wears make-up and he has a girl’s name. How original.”

02-10-2018 – Plug And Play

‘Sup, dudes

Right, well after a somewhat trying week, I was looking forward to playing a nice noisy gig on Saturday, in honour of Emma’s mate Jez’s 50th birthday.

Eagerly we loaded the gear in, I set up my rig, plugged into it, and… nothing.

Signal is getting from the guitar as far as the tuner, but no further. I ferret out a spare cable and plug directly into the amp. Still nothing. Five minutes of frenzied panic set in.

I check all the connections – they’re fine. Just as I am debating whether I have time to dash back home and pick up my spare amp head, Stuart helpfully says “Have you checked you’ve plugged all the cables in the right way round?”

“Of course I bloody have, look, this one goes in there, that one goes in there, and that one round the back… …is in the wrong socket”.

Funny, it was all in the right place when I checked a moment ago.

I feel I should point out at this juncture that you, the taxpayer, funded me for three years to get a degree in Electrical Engineering. Money well spent, eh?

Cables swapped round, guitar plugged back in, and the room is treated to the sound of a Seymour Duncan Custom ’59 humbucker majestically pushing four EL34 valves into a luscious creamy overdrive. It makes me very happy.

Ben is even happier than me though, once he discovers the size and scope of the buffet table. It appears to be large enough to expect to find herds of wildebeest roaming majestically across it – except that apparently they have already been caught, cooked, and served up on an array of plates.

Vegetablist Stuart is, on the other hand, pleased to find a large table set aside, groaning under the weight of wholesome vegetarian fare.

“No lips or arseholes for me” he gleefully pronounces.

Emma and I agree that this is indeed a sound policy for first dates. And spend the next ten minutes giggling hopelessly.

Lovely hostess Sarah is insistent that we all eat as much as possible, and take the rest home. We really do try our best.

The rest of the night goes very well, with much daft dancing around and merriment – even when ham-fisted Alan manages to snap a string mid-song, he is able to bluff his way through to the end of it, and Emma gamely distracts the audience while he digs out spare axe and bullies it into tune in time for the next number.

Finally we run out of time and have to stop, then we set about the Herculean task of loading all the equipment and spare food into the vehicles before we can shamble away homeward.

Coming up – a nice normal weekend, two gigs, nice and local. Well, local, anyway…

Friday 5th – Giant Goram, Lawrence Weston
Despite its less-than-salubrious location, this is a really jolly friendly place, the landlady (who is from “bloody Wales”) is always up for a laugh, and just as well, really…

Saturday 6th – The Crown, Staple Hill
Just literally round the corner from Ben’s new gaffe, he can actually walk to this gig. He may even be able to walk home again afterwards. Lovely pub, they likes their rocky stuff in here – and just as well, since that’s what they’re going to be getting.

And – well, that’s it for this week – I’m off to practice plugging cable in to sockets.

Square on
A

11-06-2018 – Dog Danger In The Dean

Greetings and salutations, my children of the night…

Well, that was an interesting weekend…

Saturday night, and we are booked to play a wedding at a rather nice place over in the Forest Of Dean. Very pictureskew it was, too. When Em and I arrived, deliberately early “just in case”, we found a huge marquee as promised, nicely done out, and with a somewhat aged ceilidh band just starting up. I’m allowed to say they were somewhat aged, because I am a self-confessed old bugger meself; nonetheless, some of these looked like they were approaching Death. From the other direction…

Having established that we weren’t going to be needed for a while, and there was no opportunity to unload the kit yet either, in true muso style we decamped to the nearest pub, where we met up with Ben & Stuart. We sat outside in the sunshine merrily chatting away for a while, until I eventually gave in and bought a round.

Finally we set off back to the venue, met the nice people, and set up. I was warned by the groom that one of his pals was there with his dog, who had just bitten one of ceilidh band. “He’s a lovely dog, but sometimes he just seems to go a bit mental if he sees a bloke with greying hair.”

And there’s me with my distinguished-looking platinum highlights, cost me a fortune, they did…

“Do you happen to know which member of the last band he bit?” I asked.

“Oh, it was the guitar player, I think… Anyway, if he does go for you, just climb a tree or something…”

On this comforting note, it’s time to start. In the event, the dog didn’t savage anyone, but we had a lot of lovely dancing folks, including the statutory small boy doing repeated power slides across the dance floor, which is of course now a legal requirement at all weddings.

Finally, it got to midnight, we were knackered, they were knackered, and so we gracefully called proceedings to a sweaty halt, and set off in search of more free food. We really are getting the hang of this.

Sunday teatime, and the Crown in Staple Hill beckons. And a mighty fine evening we had of it, I even managed (unlike the previous night) to actually play half-decently, which was something of a relief. I’d been beginning to think that all the hours I’d put into playing for the past forty-odd years were a total waste of time.

No comments, please.

Coming up this weekend…

Nothing. Nada. Not a sausage. No gigs.

Peace and quiet, perhaps….?

Square on
A

04-06-2018 – Klingon Birthday

Hola amigos!

I’ll keep this one short again -’cause the sun is shining in the garden, and there’s a beer waiting for me.

I’ll just briefly tell the tale of Saturday’s escapade to the Lamb in Marlborough – being just a couple of days shy of Ben’s 30th birthday, we figured this would be the best time to give him his pressies.

Now, I think it’s fair to say that our Ben is just a teeny tiny tad geeky, so he was immensely pleased when Emma presented him with a special set of many-sided dice, fantasy role-playing games for the use of. He did later admit that he already owns around a dozen sets of said dice, but that nonetheless these ones were absolutely necessary, as they’re especially shiny.

I, on the other hand, attacked his geekiness from a different angle – since last Christmas I managed to find him a t-shirt that combined both Star Trek and bass playing, I had to somehow top that. And I think I managed…

Klingon Bass Pedal

Yes folks, it’s a bass effects pedal, custom built for Ben, and with all the controls labelled in Klingon. I was rather proud of myself for making this – the culmination of several weeks of happily scribbling circuit diagrams and painstaking soldering bits together, and two entire (and extremely vexing) evenings at the laptop, trying to find the right word in Klingon for (for example) “volume”, and cross-correlate it to make sure the translation back into English was correct, then have to find the correct combination of keystrokes to use to get the Klingon font I found show the right symbol…

Did you know that there are about seven dialects of Klingon, and several different Klingon alphabet font sets, which don’t properly correlate with the online Klingon dictionaries?

Oh, how I cursed those geeks… they really should find something useful to do.

Anyways, well received though this present was, Em still won by providing a magnificent cake.

Now, why didn’t I think of that?

Anyhoo – coming up this weekend, we’re playing a wedding on Saturday (best dig out me posh frock) and on Sunday…

Sunday 10th – The Crown, Staple Hill
Nice and local, and with a 6:45 start, a nice early finish too. We very much enjoyed it here last time, and are expecting to do the same again this time. But with maybe just a hint more silliness. And a bass overdrive pedal; in bloody Klingon.

Square on
A

PS – since I now have some spare time coming up, and all the necessary kit, if anybody out there happens to want a custom built effects pedal built, let me know and we can talk terms. As long as the labels are in English…

23-04-2018 – Chrono Error 23

Well, that was a scorcher of a weekend (as the Super Soaraway Sun would undoubtedly have it); very hot indeed on Friday night, which probably accounted for the reduced turnout at the Old Mail House, with a huge percentage of potential punters still in their back gardens quaffing stubbies of lager and giving themselves food poisoning from eating blackened raw chicken.

To be fair, there were still quite a few merrymakers in, boosted by some old chums of Stuart’s who were there for one of their number’s retirement party. Retirement? But Stuart claims to be 23…

Not having been at this venue in living memory, it was a pleasant surprise to find a large raised stagey area with positively oodles of room for leaping around like a bunch of twats. So we did. Except for Stuart, who for some reason remained steadfastly sat on his drum stool right through both sets. He’s 23, you know.

Saturday at the Jolly Cobbler was very nicely timed, at least from the point of view of managing to load in and out in between thunderstorms. On the other hand, our successful effort to finish bang on 10:30 (due to noise-complainy neighbours) was rather scuppered when landlord Mike came up to us after our final number to tell us that the finish time was in fact 11:00…

“Oh. Well, that’s all right, then. Let me just turn this back on again…”

So we played on for another half hour, plundering our catalogue of songs-we-haven’t-played-for-ages and aren’t sure we can remember – but it seems that, on the whole, we can. Clearly our collective dementia is not as bad as we feared; particularly Stuart’s. He’s only 23, you know.

Finally, a special mention for youngster Jake, who went over and above the call of duty on air guitar, to the point where at one point I was actually fired from the band to make way for him… only being reinstated when I pointed out that Jake was too young to drive the van.

Coming up this weekend…

Friday 27th – Old Bank, Keynsham
It’s a bit snug in here, but we have fitted in smaller places before now, and they’re a friendly bunch; maybe we’ll even try out a few new songs on them…

Saturday 28th, 1pm – Banshees Charity Bash, Barton Hill RFC
Basically, it’s a village fete for bikers. Whole bunch of bands on (we’re opening proceedings at around 1pm), there’s stalls, food, beer, and a Viking re-enactment society staging a battle. I’m hoping that none of them puts an axe through Ben by mistake…

And that, my friends, for this week at least – is that.

Square on
A

Note – anybody who remembers last week may recall that I was threatening to bring along my bonkers new theremin-simulating effect pedal to a gig this weekend. In the end, I didn’t do so, because it suffered a mysterious and inexplicable complete functional non-operational-episode-scenario, such that I left it at home. Now, following a detailed strip down and technical investigation, including a microscopic examination of all my solder joints to try and trace the fault, I can reveal that the problem was that I had plugged the input and output jacks into the wrong sockets.

I would like to remind you that I possess a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering – which, YOU, my tax-paying friends, paid for…

That is all.

16-04-2018 – That Thing That Makes The Spooky Sounds

Yo homies

Right, this one’ll be nice and short then, as I’ve done nothing of interest at all this weekend; well, nothing that’ll interest anyone else, anyway – unless they have an unhealthy fascination for tinkering with obscure guitar effects pedals, or…

…No, that’s about it, really, tinkering with obscure guitar effects pedals was pretty much the full story of my weekend. Emma went swanning off to Paris, I sat in my kitchen and tinkered.

On the plus side, I can now make noise like a theremin,though, which I think counts for something.

I’m not entirely sure what, thought.

But, if you’d like to hear it, you could do worse than roll up to one of our gigs this weekend..

Friday 20th – Old Mail House, Staple Hill
I think that once, many years ago, I played a duo gig here. However, I can’t remember anything about it. And that’s all that Forrest has to say about that.

Saturday 21st – Jolly Cobbler, Kingswood
It’s an 8:30 start this one, because we have to finish a bit early, as landlord Mike has a grumpy neighbour. He won’t tell us which one though, just in case. Maybe, though, the grumpy neighbour would enjoy being serenaded by swoopy theremin sounds being driven full-tilt through a 120 watt guitar amp. I’m rather looking forward to finding out.

Right, well I said this would be a quick one…*

Square on
A
*Insert double entendre of choice

12-02-2018 – Kitten Lung & Other Stories

Hola Amigos

Welcome to this week’s Tour Diary, a summary of a relentless three consecutive days out on the road, treading the boards to bring entertainment to the drinking masses of the South West. Oh, it’s a hard life.

No, really, actually it is. Your favourite axe-spanker has been rather poorly this week; suffering firstly from a nasty van condition, which had me pedestrianized for half the week, until being heroically fixed by my favourite local garage (Green Lane in Olveston, should you need any car repairs – shameless plug for a fine automotive repair establishment) – and then from an unpleasant chest infection, which manifests itself at least in part by my one of my lungs making a worrying purring sound if I’m lying down.

“Ah”, explains knowledgeable eldest son, “You’ve got Kitten Lung”.

“Kitten Lung?”

“Yes, it’ll be from all those years you spent working down the kitten mines. Well-known industrial disease, is kitten lung – comes from inhaling the fur. You might even be able to claim compensation for that.” There is a moment’s pause as we reflect that probably the worst aspect of kitten mining would be cleaning your pickaxe at the end of the shift, and ponder whether kitten miners of old used canaries in small cages to detect a rich seam… “I thought I thaw a puddey tat…”

…and that wasn’t even in the top 10 weird conversations of the weekend.

Anyway, back on the tour bus…

Friday at the Trout in Keynsham was a jolly affair, I tried out my nice new speaker cab, and my freshly-built overdrive pedal, and – though I say it myself – was sounding unusually magnificent. If only I could actually play… Still the evening was livened up my some lovely punters, including an old pal we’ve not seen for many years (in fact, I think the last time I saw her was when we played her wedding; she married a drummer. Well, we did try and warn her.), and an extremely affable group of ladies out celebrating a birthday, and who were rather taken with our air-guitar-related rock shenanigans.

Saturday at the Crown in Staple Hill – last time I came here, I was in an advanced stage of inebriation, watching another band – and had just as much fun this time, despite not being in a position to take advantage of the landlord’s “free beer for musicians” policy (which should, in my view, become law). And this despite the fact that the combination of extreme cold outside and extreme heat and damp inside the pub meant that once set up, our kit was literally dripping with condensation. I eye my beloved amp worriedly. There’s the best part of 1,000 volts going on inside there…

Happily, the amp fires up and behaves impeccably, until 8 bars into the soundcheck when all guitar noise abruptly ceases. After a worrying few minutes, a cheap and easy-to-fix pedal is identified as the culprit, which is rapidly cast aside to await my soldering iron’s tender ministrations later in the week.

The gig goes really well, and is marred only by the fact that I am starting to feel Proper Poorly, and that Ben and Emma have also succumbed to the dreaded Kitten Lung. After we finish and pack up, we collapse in a heap round a table and indulge in a ten-minute tag-team coughing fit. Stuart eyes us with paternal compassion. “I’m getting you buggers put down”, he kindly tells us.

Sunday, and time for one last gig of the weekend; thus the Van Of Pestilence trundles merrily eastwards along the M4 bound for quaint, picturesque Wantage, which is to be found some way North of Junction 14, and a little way past the year 1680AD.

It’s a cosy little pub; we arrive early, and carefully shoehorn in all the kit. We’ve been asked to play three slightly shorter sets instead of the usual two hour-long ones, which at least gives Ben and Emma a chance to try and recover their now-rather-broken voices.

There’s a few tracks with tricky vocals that we don’t even attempt, so to make up time we have to sling in a bit of extra guitar solo , and we eventually manage to limp all the way to the end of the third set, although by the last number Em finds that sometimes, instead of a full-blown bellow, all that comes out is a tiny squeak…

Still, the punters seem happy enough, so we pack up, say our farewells, and rattle off into the night, coughing and spluttering…

So now – several days’ vocal rest for my bandmates, who will be communicating instead this week via the medium of interpretative dance, in an effort to be match fit for next Friday…

Friday 16th – Royal Oak, Marlborough
We played here once before, a couple of years ago – nice big pub with a raised stage area; though as I recall, there weren’t too many punters last time. If it’s the same this time it could be a good place to try out some of those songs we haven’t finished learning yet. Or maybe our freshly-crafted original symphony “Hacking Cough Suite For Shredded Lungs”

Square on
A